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Ashton Market Hall Memories

This page is a place where you can share photographs and memories of the indoor market, destroyed by fire in May 2004.

Inside Ashton Market Hall, 2003 - photo: Colin Hyatt
Inside the Market Hall, 2003 (photo: Colin Hyatt)

Colin writes:

I was shocked when I first heard and then saw on the net details of the fire in the market hall last year.

At just short of 69 years I still have vivid memories of visits to the market with my mother from a very young age in the 1930s and 1940s. One of my pleasures then was a glass of dandelion and burdock from the soft drinks stall. My family left Droylsden in 1947 and settled in the south - first in Dorset, then Hampshire, where I am now on the coast between Portsmouth and Southampton.

When I first took the girl who became my wife to the market she was amazed at the number and variety of stalls especially the offal stall with its ranged of delicates, sadly now gone. We bought many things there for our coming home, like cutlery from the Sheffield cutlery stall, another sadly gone.

We continued to visit the market whenever on holiday in the area and it is where I would gorge myself on meat pies and custard tarts before buying dozens of fresh oven bottom muffins and the odd proper meat pie to take home and stock the freezer, as quality items like them are unheard of in the south!

Inside Ashton Market Hall, 2003 - photo: Colin Hyatt
Inside the Market Hall, 2003 (photo: Colin Hyatt)

Jacki writes:

I have many memories of the inside market - too numerous to mention but one of my fondest would have to be the little drinks stall, just inside coming in from the outside market. I think it was called Kenworthys!

I had a Saturday job on the outside market in the 60s and the stall owner brought a huge jug of hot tea for us just after we had set up the stall, and later on, just before lunch, he brought us a huge jug of hot coffee. Boy, were those hot drinks welcomed, especially in winter! In later years my husband and myself used to go there for cheese on toast. They made the best I've ever tasted even to this day.

I used to do my Nan's shopping as I grew older, and I had to get her cheese and bacon from Lowes - I didn't dare to go anywhere else. My school socks came from Brookes, as did my nylons in my teens then tights!

I was over on holiday from Australia in March of this year and, feeling the cold, I went and bought a pair of knee-high socks from - where else - Brookes, to put on under my jeans!

Gleaves Biscuit Stall, Ashton Market, Ashton under Lyne - photo: Meg Gain
Sampling the fig rolls at Gleaves Biscuit Stall (photo: Meg Gain)

Meg writes:

I actually did some of my Dad's shopping there the afternoon before the fire and I remember thinking how unique the Market is, in the age of hypermarkets and exotic foodstuffs from all around the world. Ashton town centre just won't be the same without the Market Hall.

I remember passing one of those little cafes that were tucked in and around the stalls and thinking it was a 'throwback' to the 1950s, with its formica topped tables - full of elderly ladies taking a break from their weekly 'shop'.

I have so many memories of going to all the different stalls with my mum and my nanny. I used to love having a milkshake at the drinks counter, with its shiny steel counter and the swishing machines that whipped up the milk. Then there was 'Queenies' for your sweaters; next to her stall you bought your stockings in a fetching shade of American Tan; and then pick up some oven bottom muffins and a piece of crumbly Lancashire for dinner.

Williams Muffin Stall, Ashton Market, Ashton under Lyne - photo: Ian
S Williams and Sons' well-stocked Muffin Stall (photo: Ian)

Bailey's Hardware sold donkey stone for the front door step and wire wool for cleaning saucepans. John Hill's biscuits were sold from glass topped tins that lined the counter. We were allowed to choose whether we had 'sports biscuits' (the plain biscuits that had pictures of football, hockey, cricket etc. on them) or digestives. For special treats we bought chocolate marshmallows! Walkers' greengrocers for fruit, calling at the newspaper stand for a magazine or comic. At Whitsuntide I had a new outfit for the Sunday School "Whit Walks" and could choose a handbag from the stall in the market. Lots of lovely memories and all those smells too!

Gina writes:

I used to go in the market hall every Saturday. I used to buy my cards from there, my son his computer games and I also used to buy my bread and cakes as well. The butchers used to have some lovely packs of meat for families like peppered steak and minted lamb chops - you could get two packs for a fiver.

I also used to sit in the indoor cafe with my mum and have a brew and sometimes used to go to the stall where you could buy a milkshake.

You took the market hall for granted because it had got everything you needed in there. I for one will be lost without it.

Ashton Inside Market - photo: Colin Hyatt
Inside the Market Hall, early 1960s (photo: Colin Hyatt)

Joyce writes:

From being about 3 years old until after the War, my aunt used to take me there most Saturdays to shop in the Market Hall. One of my first Christmas clothing presents I remember when I was about 4 years old was bought from a stall in there and was a little brown 2 piece knitted outfit with orange trim which had hung up high on a rack. The vendor where my knit 2 piece outfit was bought was one of the larger centre ones facing opposite the long inside of the wall that is left standing. It's very difficult to describe but I could point it out on a stall map!

Also, even during the War, I was always able to get a tiny bit of make-up from a stall somewhere in there - not sure now, but they also occasionally got tiny bottles of Phul-Nana perfume. Probably smelled awful, but I thought was great then when I was about 15 or 16!

I can still see the little place (somewhere in a middle aisle I think) where the "cosmetic and perfume" stall was located, and they also sold little packets of "Devon Violet Cachous" and the funny thing is, several years ago I found a packet in Canada and bought it and saved it just for the memories of Ashton Market! At this very moment I have it here still with the cashous in it! For some strange reason I always remember coming up to the stall, or passing it, on my right-hand side.

There are, of course, lots of other vendors I remember, greengrocers, etc., but not specifically for any reason other than standing waiting for my aunt to buy whatever it was she needed and just that overall feeling of warmth and it being a happy place to be or pass through. Many memories and sincerely hope it never becomes just a parking lot!! That would be an even worse tragedy.

See pages on this website about:
Ashton Market
Market Hall destroyed by fire
Aftermath of Market Hall fire
Opening of the temporary Phoenix Market Hall
Inside the temporary Phoenix Market Hall
Inside the re-opened Market Hall

For more information, see the pages about the market on the Town Centre website (external link)

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Visit the Places of Interest index page to find out about more about places to visit around Ashton.